|What is your first vision when you think of Patong? Wait! Don’t tell me, I know what you are seeing. So let me show you a small enclave never seen by most people. It is right under the southern bridge leading to the Amari Coral Beach Resort (and Tri Trang Beach beyond it).
Few would stop out of curiosity, it is a nice sight from the top of the bridge, but how many would walk down the steep stairs just to see a small fisherman village still active in the middle of an overgrown tourist town.
I have a special relationship with this village. There used to be a tiny french restaurant in the nineties and I might even have designed their logo at the time. There were not many french restaurants anywhere anyway. Then in 2004, the tsunami wiped out the entire place in a minute… all gone!Few days after the tsunami I visited the place and met a couple of ladies, Maria and Fatima, sitting on what was left of their house and wondering what they were going to do now. I posted their photo on my photo gallery (see below), dedicated to the amazing human spirit in rebuilding their lives. Soon after, Peter, a man from Belgium came with a large donation given by the population of his hometown and offered it to these ladies. I documented it, it was very emotional. Then time passed and we lost contact as it often happens when life returns to normal.
Today I decided to revisit this area, it was not the first time I took photos here, but this time I really wanted to capture what life was like in such unusual place. So I walked in the heat for more than an hour when I heard my name… and here they were, both ladies waving at me with smiles and tears… time passes but people don’t forget these times. She now has a tiny noodle soup restaurant and of course, I had to try. It was simple, very local and tasted specially good.
The village is sheltering fishermen and tourists longtail boats. At this time of the year, when sea is a bit rough, most boats are parked here, but during high season these boats all stay along the south end of the Patong beach. It is a huge contrast to walk along this poor riverbank after driving along Starbucks, fancy shops and shopping centers. People, young and old smiled and greeted me, kids waved, asking me to take their photos. Don’t get fooled by the photos though, it’s a bit dirty, it’s a bit smelly, but it’s real and i had great time wandering along the river, asking ‘Am I really in Patong?’
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